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Live Earth Farm (Com)Post
7th Harvest Week, Season 14
May 11th - 17th, 2009
in this issue
What's in the box this week
Control, Timing, and Balance - We try!
Community Farm Day - IMPORTANT CHANGE
Calling All Half-Dozen Egg Cartons!
Dirt to Dining
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
2009 Calendar

"Balance has no limit to its forms"

~Eric Alan (from Wild Grace)
What's in the box this week
Content differences between Family and Small Shares are in red; items with a "+" in Family Shares are more in quantity than in Small; anticipated quantities, if any, are in parentheses, as is the source of any produce not from Live Earth Farm (LEF). Occasionally content will differ from this list (typically we will make a substitution), but we do our best to give you an accurate projection.

[go to recipe database]

Family Share
Fava beans - lots!!!
Green garlic
Lettuce, mixed kinds (romaine, deer-tongue, oak leaf)
Fresh green onions
Baby mei qing choi
Dry stored red onions (Pinnacle Farm)
Oyster mushrooms (Ortiz Mushroom Farm)
Radishes (French breakfast AND regular red)
Spinach - lots!!!
Strawberries (1 basket)

Small Share
Artichokes (Swanton Berry Farm)
Fava beans - lots!!
Green garlic
Lettuce, mixed kinds
Baby mei qing choi
Onions - dry storage from Pinnacle Farms (or our fresh green onions if we run out)
French breakfast radishes
Spinach - lots!!
Strawberries (1 basket)

Extra Fruit Option
3 - 4 baskets of strawberries (see checklist for final quantity)

Fruit Bounty Option
starts soon... we'll let you know when!

This week's bread will be 3-seed whole wheat

Control, Timing and Balance - We try!
In Farming I am challenged to surrender and adapt to nature's changing cycles while at the same time exercising some level of control, mostly temporary, over the
dynamic interacting forces of plants and animals living on the farm.
Right now for example, on top of the list, is the exploding weed population competing with our crops. After last week's rain, every inch of cultivated soil and currently planted with young vegetable seedlings, is bursting with competing weeds. Armed with tractor mounted chisels, knives, shovels, or flaming gas burners, assisted by patient and diligent workers wielding sharp hoes and sickle shaped knives, we have been partially successful to control these prolific invaders.


When it comes to relatives in the animal "kindom", much of our attention has shifted to the Farm's busy birthing center - the goat pen.  Shortly after the full moon on Saturday, two more of the elder and very pregnant goats, "Moonshadow" and "Pepper", gave birth to triplets.  Fortunately Moonshadow went into labor during the day. After her "water" broke followed by a period  (1/2 hour) of heavy contractions it became abundantly clear she couldn't push her babies through the birth canal and needed help. Luckily the "vet" on call was immediately available and noticed that two of the three kids were in a breached position. Under normal circumstances baby goats are born with both their front legs coming out first, in Moonshadow's case, the first baby in line to be born had it's rear legs showing first.  The second baby was pointed in the right direction, however one of its front legs was stuck in the backward position. Moonshadow was very cooperative and it didn't take the vet very long to help her birth three beautiful baby boys.

Baby goats are born with a thick slimey mucous covering their entire face and body. It is critical that the mother immediately licks the mucous off, especially around the face and nose, in order for the baby to take it's first breath. Licking also stimulates bloodflow and in a very short time kids will stand up to start feeding.  Normally goats only birth one or two kids, triplets seem to be so unusual that, instinctually, a mother goat will favor and care only for two. 

Unfortunately this was the case when "Pepper" decided to birth in our absence. While Taylor and I took a short break to grab something to eat after attending to Moonshadow's triple birthing, Pepper, within the timespan of an hour, birthed her triplets. By the time we arrived, one of the babies had died. Pepper was most likely focused attending to just two of the newborns with insufficient time to clear the mucous of the third one. With its airways blocked it was unable to take its first life giving breath.

In an ideal world we should have been there. On the other hand we are powerless to control all the ways an animal behaves.  Our relationship to other animals, no matter how much we feed them, can, at best be one of symbiotic and responsible care. Mollie and Taylor have been doing a fantastic job being present watching and attending to the needs of both the mother goats and their babies. We now have 10 kids birthed from four goats -- the older and more experienced ones in the herd. We expect that in next week or so, the remaining six younger does will birth as well. We'll keep you posted. - Tom

Community Farm Day - IMPORTANT CHANGE
Last week I made an unfortunate mistake to announce that the Farm's first Community Farm Day would take place on the 23rd of this month, while in my distracted busyness I didn't take notice that our son David's 15th birthday fell on that weekend. So, I apologize but it will have to be postponed to the 30th, the last Saturday of May. The activities will be the same. In order to avoid any future confusion and make planning ahead for these events a bit easier, I am posting the dates for all Community Farm Days scheduled until the end of the season:

   May 30th
   June 20th Farm - coinciding with our Solstice Celebration
   August 1st
   August 29th
   September 26th
   October 24th - coinciding with our Harvest Celebration

Summer Solstice pot-luck

Everyone is invited to participate in our first Community Farm Day of the Season scheduled for Saturday May 30th, the last weekend in May.  Community Farm Days will be held once a month for the remainder of the season (according to the above scheduled dates) and are your opportunity to get a glimpse of what life on the farm is like. You are welcome to pitch a tent and stay overnight the night before (i.e. Friday, May 29th) if you like. Please bring appropriate clothing to spend the day outside. Also, everyone should bring their own food supplies (you can expect to supplement them with farm produce), utensils, and personal care products. The day will start at 9am Saturday and end at 5pm.  Depending on your interest we have the following tentative schedule of activities you can choose to participate in.
Field: Planting native grasses, 5 different types, along two sloping fields to act as filter strips to prevent erosion. We'll also sow this year's winter squash and, if time permits, build a trellis for our Kiwis. In our spare time we'll learn to thin apples and pears, and learn more about permaculture design principles we use on the farm.

Cooking: Milk the goats and learn how to make cheese. Then bake bread in one of our cobovens. The rest is easy, spread the cheese on freshly baked bread, yum!!!

Building: Continue working on the exterior of the cob oven and countertop area.

Education Garden: for those who want to stay out of the fields we need your help in the new education garden to plant, set up the irrigation, mulch, weed, trellis, and much more...

On Friday night for those staying on the farm I am organizing a slideshow, and you are welcome to bring music and any other form of entertainment you might like to share around a small campfire.

ALSO IMPORTANT: Please RSVP as to when you will be arriving (Fri or Sat), and how many people will participate. If you know what activities you'd be interested in, also let us know. (831)-763-2448 or email at farmers@cruzio.com

Thank you,
Calling All Half-Dozen Egg Cartons!
Got the call from Jim and Rebecca over at TLC Ranch that their supplier is temporarily out of the half-dozen-sized egg cartons and they are 'scrambling' to acquire more. So if you've been saving them with the intention of bringing them back to your pick-up site one day... this week would be 'the day' to do it! Jim and Rebecca thank you very much.
Dirt to Dining
I'm sure you've heard Tom talk about the Eco-Farm conference many of us attend each winter; well the Ecological Farming Association does a lot more than just put on the conference, and yes they are also a non-profit. So like all non-profits, they are fundraising right now, and famous local chef Jesse Cool is offering 'a day in Jesse's Kitchen Garden' - an event at her home in Palo Alto, which includes a garden tour, food and wine tasting, with food prepared from goodies sourced by local farms, including ours! All proceeds for this event support the Ecological Farming Association. So if you're curious and want to learn more [Jesse Cool is great; I love her stuff], click here to go to their webpage and learn more! Oh yeah, the event is Sunday June 7th. ~ Debbie
Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Click here to go to the recipe database.

This week we're going to have piles of fava beans and LOADS of beautiful spinach. Tom says he has a bumper crop of the spinach; whee! - Debbie

First off is a really fabulous sounding recipe from a blog called "101 Cookbooks" by Heidi Swanson which was forwarded to me by member Sandi Gaertner.

Grilled Fava Beans
Serves 2 - 4
Heidi Swanson's photo of grilled fava beans
The beautiful photo, above, is Heidi's (she's a photographer as well as food writer). In Heidi's blog she talks about being served grilled favas at a little restaurant in Japan, where "I knew we were in for a great meal when chef Koichi Nakajima started our night with two deeply charred fava beans served on a piece of paper. We split the pods open with our fingers, slipped each fava bean from its skin and popped them in our mouths one after another. It doesn't get much better - simple, smoky, perfectly cooked, and fun to eat. If you haven't tried grilling fresh favas, you must! You can make them on the grill or in a grill pan, then toss them out onto a newspaper where people can dive in and make a bit of a mess with the pods and skins." She goes on to say, "Here's the secret: any seasoning you put on the pods will stick to your fingers. In a good way. Toss the pods with a few glugs of olive oil and some sea salt before placing them on the grill, you can certainly play around with ideas beyond that. I sometimes add crushed red pepper flakes to the olive oil, or finish the favas with lemon zest or freshly chopped dill (or chives) after they come off the grill. The key is getting the grill (or pan) the right temperature - too hot and the pods char before the beans have time to steam in their pods." I certainly like the way she thinks! Okay, here's the recipe:

1 pound of fresh fava beans, still in their pods
a couple glugs of olive oil
a few pinches of salt

optional: crushed red pepper flakes, lemon zest, and or chopped fresh herbs.

In a large bowl toss the fava bean pods with olive oil and salt. Arrange them in a single layer on a grill over medium-high heat. If you're using a grill pan, you may need to cook them in batches. If I'm using an outdoor grill I don't bother covering the favas, but when I use a grill pan, I typically cover the pan with a flat baking sheet to keep more of the heat in the pan and circulating. Grill until blistered on one side - 4 to 5 minutes, then flip and grill for a few minutes more on the other side. If you aren't sure when to pull them off, take a pod off the grill, open and taste one of the beans. You want the fava beans to be smooth and creamy when you pop them out of their skins - not undercooked. But keep in mind that they'll keep steaming in their pods for a few minutes after they come off the grill, unless you eat them as soon as you can handle the pods without singing your fingers - which is what I encourage you to do :) Season the grilled favas with a bit more salt (if needed) and any herbs or lemon zest if you like. To eat: tear open the puffy green pods, take a fava bean, pinch the skin and slide the bright green fava from its slipper. Eat them one at a time and be sure to lick your fingers.

I wanted to talk about simply sauteed spinach, as it is such a great way to go when you have lots of it! This makes a great side dish with any number of things (meat, fish, chicken, beans) and I really love it. I see I wrote about this back in a 2005 newsletter, so I'll excerpt from that here:

Sauteed Spinach and Garlic
The most important thing to remember is that spinach cooks way down, so use lots!

Prep and wash your spinach (if you haven't already). In a large skillet or pot add a clove or two of garlic (crushed or minced) [or chopped up green garlic!] to some olive oil and heat until sizzling. Throw in spinach handfuls at a time and stir/toss to coat with garlic/oil. (If you have more greens than will fit in the pot initially, cook down part of them then add more as space becomes available.) You have to add a splash of water if the spinach is dry (if recently washed and water is still clinging, that should be sufficient). Keep stirring/tossing/poking around with your wooden spoon until the spinach is just wilted but still bright green. Turn off heat. It's ready! Serve with optional vinegar in a little pitcher, which diners can then add at the table (along, of course, with salt!). The reason for waiting to add vinegar until at the table rather than in the pan is purely visual: the vinegar starts to turn the spinach olive-colored in short order as the acid reacts to the greens. The spinach will keep its beautiful green color a lot longer if you don't add vinegar until you eat it. (Plus some folks like it without!)

This next recipe was sent to me by member L. Peter Deutsch, who says, "I make this recipe almost every week with whatever greens are in the bag. It doesn't work with really bitter greens (like dandelion greens), but it is foolproof with *anything* else, from beet greens to leeks to Brussels sprouts. The cooked greens store and reheat well, too.  (Slightly adapted from 'Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian,' one of my two favorite cookbooks.)"

Foolproof Universal Greens Recipe
3 Tbsp cooking oil
4 oz onion (1 medium), peeled and sliced into fine half rings
1-2 fresh chiles (jalapeno or serrano), split in half lengthwise, and in half crosswise if large
1 lb any kind of greens, minus any coarse stalks or ribs, cut into fine shreds
3/4 to 1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 Tbsp unsweetened dried coconut, or 1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar

Heat oil in a large wok or frying pan over medium-high heat.  When hot, put in the onion and green chile.  Stir and fry until the onion has browned a bit, about 5-10 minutes.  Add the shredded greens, salt, and turmeric.  Stir and cook until the greens have wilted somewhat.  If the bottom of the pan appears dry, add a little water.  Cover, lower the heat, and cook 10 minutes, or until the greens are tender.  Uncover, add the coconut or brown sugar, and stir.  Turn off the heat and serve.

This next recipe is one I've had in my email file since two years ago! It was sent in to me by longtime CSA member Lauren Thompson, who says, "It's a great way to use up a lot of spinach in one pass. The flavors of sweet potato and coconut milk together are a must try!" The only drag is that we don't grow sweet potatoes. Tom says it's not quite hot enough here in the coastal zone, but they can be sourced fairly locally so that's good!

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Spinach and Coconut Milk
from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, by Jack Bishop
serves 4 as a main course

4 sweet potatoes (10-11 ounces each), scrubbed
2 tbsp. canola oil, plus more for rubbing on the potatoes
2 tbsp. minced gingerroot
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 1/4 pounds flat-leaf spinach, stems removed unless very thin, leaves washed, shaken dry to remove excess water, and chopped (about 8 C)
1/3 C unsweetened coconut milk
3 tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro leaves

1. Move an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly rub each potato with a little oil. Place potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and bake until the skin is crisp and a skewer slides easily through the flesh, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and set the sweet potatoes aside on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees. [Since you're going to be halving the potatoes later, I find that they're easier to cook that way from the start: I cut the raw potatoes in half lengthwise, coat 'em lightly with oil, then bake face-down in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. They get all buttery-soft and succulent that way!]

2. While the sweet potatoes are cooling, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Add the ginger and the curry paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the damp spinach, cover, and cook, stirring once or twice, until completely wilted, about 5 minutes. Add salt to taste and set the spinach mixture aside.

3. Using a folded kitchen towel to hold the hot sweet potatoes, cut each one in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop the flesh from each half into a medium bowl, leaving a 1/4 inch of the flesh and skin in each shell. Arrange the empty sweet potato shells on the baking sheet.

4. Mash the sweet potatoes in the bowl with the coconut milk until smooth. Stir in the spinach mixture and cilantro. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt to taste.

5. Mound the sweet potato filling into each shell. Bake until the top of the filling is firm and slightly crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Serve. (Be careful: straight from the oven, the potatoes are unbearably hot to eat.)

Lastly, here's yet another blog-sourced spinach recipe, from a blogger named "Evil Jungle Prince" who says he's been "worshipping flavorful Asian, Korean, Greek and Mediterranean foods since 2005." http://www.desertmodernism.com/blog/india/

Spinach and Chickpea Curry
Per Mr. Jungle Prince, "This recipe is such an obvious match flavor and consistency-wise, I could almost kick myself for not thinking of it before spotting it in Das Sreedharan's Indian cookbook: chickpea curry with fresh spinach. So easy and satisfying!" He, also, had a photo, which I am sharing with you here. Recipe is below.

Evil Jungle Prince's photo of chickpea curry with fresh spinach

1. Use a mortar and pestle to combine 1-2 hot green chilies and knob of fresh ginger. Add a spoonful of water and grind. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a wok and fry 2-3 garlic cloves. Now add 1 peeled and minced onion. Next add 1 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, chili-ginger paste, and 2 tsp tomato paste. Fry for 2 mins.

3. Pour in 1 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Stir in chickpeas along with a pinch of salt. Simmer for 5 mins, then add fresh spinach just before serving so that the spinach retains its bright green color.

Here is the current schedule, and we will update the calendar here in the newsletter regularly. You can also get more information from the calendar on our website.

NEW!! Farm Workshops/Lectures
this is an idea that is still forming...
Possible subjects to include Permaculture, Fermented Foods, Farming with the Wild... stay tuned!

UPDATED!! Community Farm Days
Every month from May through October, 9am - 4pm, on these Saturdays:
  May 30th
   June 20th Farm - coinciding with our Solstice Celebration
   August 1st
   August 29th
   September 26th
   October 24th - coinciding with our Harvest Celebration
Participants are welcome to arrive Friday evening and camp out overnight to Saturday. Please leave your dogs at home, thanks! The intent of Community Farm Days is to increase the opportunity for members and their families to experience and enjoy a slice of "life on the farm" at different times of the year - kind of like our old Mini Camp, but for members of all ages! Each month will have a different activity focus, and will be announced in advance here in the newsletter. RSVP of number of people attending and whether you'll be arriving Friday night or Saturday is requested. Call 831.763.2448 or email farmers@cruzio.com

Apricot U-Pick Days

two Sundays: July 5th and July 12th
Bring your own bags.

Summer Solstice Celebration
Saturday June 20th <---note new date!
[click here for a short YouTube video of our 2007 celebration]

*** Children's Mini-Camp has been discontinued, and is being replaced with the above-mentioned Community Farm Days. ***

Fall Harvest Celebration
Saturday October 24th
[and click here for a YouTube video of our Fall celebration!]

Contact Information
farm phone: (831) 763.2448